Sunday, November 25, 2007

Awesome Bag

Whenever I go to Canada, I can't stay away from the Roots store. This time we got sweatshirts for Daniel and Aspen, and a slew of t-shirts for Rob and I. But the best purchase was this, my awesome bag:

I love this bag for three reasons:

1). It is huge. See how it dwarfs the actual scrapbooking tote next to it? It is ginormous, and therefore it is awesome.

2). Inside, it has special pockets designated for a cell phone, an iPod, and headphones. These pockets are awesome because they perfectly fit my cell phone, my iPod, and my headphones, and because these pockets are awesome, the bag is awesome.

3). It is the color of the maple leaf on the Canadian flag, and therefore it is awesome.


All I asked was for one nice smile. One teeny, tiny nice smile for a photo showing off Daniel's favorite shirt and latest haircut. But oh no. Because... he's Daniel.


We went to my aunt Gail and uncle Kevin's to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. Below is my favorite cousin Shelby and her boyfriend...

Here's Daniel with his hero, cousin Zachary.
And here's Daniel with cousin Jake, who gave Daniel jellybeans before dinner. That adds up to a way cool cousin.

Niagara Falls

We headed to Niagara Falls on our last day in Ontario. Unfortunately it was real rainy and foggy that day and so much steam was rising from the center of the Horseshoe, we didn't get a really nice view of it. Rob was very disappointed as he'd never been there before. Oh well -- we'll go back next time.

Isn't Daniel a cutie pie in his new Roots hoodie? Yeah, I thought so too.

Toronto Zoo

We took Daniel and cousin Noah to the Toronto Zoo to see the dinosaurs... which, admittedly, sounds a bit weird given that dinosaurs are extinct. But there was this traveling exhibit at the zoo with life-size animatronic dinosaurs, like the ones used in Jurassic Park, and we thought it would be fun to go see them. It gave a whole new perspective that you don't get just from seeing the reconstructed fossils at the natural history museum -- T-Rex was enormous and frightening, and the Allosaurus was vicious looking. Below, Daniel and Noah imitate T-Rex.

We weren't that excited about the rest of the zoo, although it did have an outstanding children's experience area with things like these sea turtle shells to climb into and a bunch of other stuff to climb and play on.
Daniel and Noah found a hippo statue to climb on. Actually, there were very few things Daniel and Noah didn't want to climb...


So we spent a couple of days in Cornwall with my grandparents and made sure to hit a few highlights: the chip wagon for fish and chips...
Quebec, just to say we'd been...
and the cemetery at Nana's church, so we could see her and Poppa's plot. Morbid, yes, but it was important to her that we go see it. Actually, the graveyard is quite lovely. I find that often to be the case with graveyards -- they're quite peaceful and pretty. There are graves dating to the 1600s in this cemetery. Some of them are so old the engravings are completely worn away from weather.

Great Poppa/Great Nana

Some photos from our recent trip to Canada. Daniel had a wonderful time visiting with his Great Poppa and Great Nana, and they were both so happy to have Daniel there. I wish we could have stayed longer. Daniel really liked learning about the river from Poppa, and all the hugs and ice-cream he received from Nana. He also got to ride on all of Poppa's fun toys... the motorized scooter chair, and the chair that Poppa has to ride up and down the stairs. Of course I didn't think it was such a great idea that Poppa let Daniel try and drive the scooter, and of course I was right -- Daniel nearly crashed it into the neighbor's garage door. But Poppa thought that was funny. We slipped some Lancaster perch onto Daniel's dinner plate on night and told him it was chicken. He ate it all but told us it tasted strange. Hee.

Rob gets his electronic hand held Yahtzee! on.


We did trick-or-treating with Daniel's best friend Andrew and Andrew's sister Casey, as well as their cousins. Here are some photos of the kids checking out their haul. And Andrew's blue tongue, which his mother was not keen to take a picture of but I was all, "Stick out your tongue, Andrew!" and snapped it twice to make sure it came out right.

The kids before trick-or-treating -- Daniel was a mummy. It was impossible to get them to all look at the camera at the same time, but at least they all look cute.

The Package Shark

So I'm sitting here watching tv as usual (VH-1 Classic -- Eddie and the Cruisers just ended, and now Mark Goodman is about to play the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" video, which as we all know was the better and cooler predecessor to the crap that was USA for Africa's "We Are the World") and this ad for something called the Package Shark came on, and I think I've realized that there is a genre of ad that I do actually love: the Low Budget Extremely Useful Gadget Ad.

The Package Shark, despite its questionable name, is something everyone really needs. It's a little cutting tool that will easily open all those dreadful plastic packages things are sold in -- the worst offenders are found in the children's toy department, but in the ad, they showed real razor packaging, a curling iron package, and packages for larger sized batteries. It's got a concealed blade that you'll push a button to release as you run it around the edge of the package (similar to a couple of tools invented by a client of mine to open DVD and cd packaging), and voila! The damn thing is open. I was so excited by this tool that I didn't even check to see how much it costs, but the great thing about ads like this one is that the items featured are always the same price -- $19.95! And they always throw in a couple of extras -- in this case, special wrapping paper scissors and an extra Package Shark. I would totally pay $19.95 for two Package Sharks and a pair of special wrapping paper scissors.

The great thing about these ads is how low key they always are. I mean, they always start with some poor over-acting by some actor pretending to be a frustrated housewife who's trying to stuff extra sweaters into a closet or a drawer (in the case of the vacuum pack bags whose name I can't recall right now), or the one who can't find any lids for her Tupperware in the kitchen (in the case of the plastic storage container organizer... again, the name escapes me), or my new favorite, the woman trying to open a plastic package containing a curling iron, who tries everything -- scissors, knife, and then a chainsaw! So the Package Shark ad is even poking fun at itself, in a way. And then following this funny little household drama, they show you the product, and demonstrate it like 40 times in 2 minutes so you can have little doubt that this thing will work. No one shouts. There are no flashy graphics. These ads actually kind of require a longer attention span than most ads. And at first, you're kind of irritated because they're interrupting your show or whatever, and they're so low budget that just looking at them is annoying. And then you're sucked in by wanting to make fun of the ad. But then you can't, because the product being advertised is something you really need in order to effectively operate your life.

Can you imagine how much time everyone could save fighting with plastic packaging on Christmas morning if everyone got a Package Shark in their stocking?

The really funny thing about the Package Shark is that it totally looks like the sort of product that would come in the offensive plastic packaging it's designed to break through.

I love how VH-1 Classic has a little logo that reads "Classic Current" so they can get away with playing new videos by older artists. Sly.

The guitar player for Steely Dan is probably the creepiest looking man in rock and roll. This is why I shouldn't ever watch VH-1 Classic.

But later they're going to show the documentary called The U.S. Versus John Lennon!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Commercials I Hate

I hate most commercials; they insult our intelligence in an onslaught of bad dialogue and poor lighting -- and then we're expected to swoon over whatever they're selling and head right out to buy it. Personally, if a commercial annoys me enough, I will never buy what it's selling -- any Swiffer-related product being the sole exception to this rule. But herewith, the commercials that annoy me more than any others:

1). Any ad featuring the OxyClean guy -- the annoying guy who shouts and most likely spits while he talks. There are about 6 different ads starring this guy, who purportedly is the guy who invented all the products he's shilling. I would be too afraid to buy any of it for fear that he would leap out of the packaging and start shouting at me about the state of my toilet bowls or something.

2). Any Westwood College is excruciating because they are clearly so low budget, but the worst is the one with the fully nerdy girl in a red sweater who's all, "Want to know what today's HOTTEST careers are??" And I'm thinking, "Hell no, because anything you think is hot probably involve Renaissance garb and hobbits, and I just don't want to go that deeply into your mind." I mean, seriously, who thought this chick was sexy enough to sell an ad about "the hottest jobs"? Ick.

3). Allstate ads. Here's what I'm going to tell you about the "discounts" and "credits" advertised by Allstate: they will build them into the premium rates. Therefore, you aren't really getting a discount or a credit at all; you probably won't save with Allstate more than you would with any other insurance company. If Allstate is the company that can offer you the lowest premium for the best coverage, more power to you, but don't be deceived by ads that say you won't be charged for an accident -- there's not a single insurance company on the planet that won't raise your premium for an at-fault accident. What Allstate's going to do is charge you for it in advance; then, after you have it, they can be all, "See? We didn't raise your rates!"

4). And while we're on insurance, let's talk about the State Farm ads where the insurance agent shows up at someone's house in the middle of the damn night when some drunkard drives through the client's living room wall. Sorry, but drunkard or no, your insurance agent isn't showing up to your house in the middle of the night. You won't even have your insurance agent's home phone number (unless your premiums total over $50,000 a year -- then you might). Talk about insulting our intelligence. I mean, do people really believe this shit is real??

5). Toilet paper ads that use puppies to demonstrate the softness of the toilet paper. I'm not even sure where I'm supposed to go with this -- am I supposed to take the puppy's word for it that the toilet paper is soft? Puppies poop on the lawn and don't wipe -- how would they even know? Or am I supposed to be thinking, "Well, puppies are soft and this toilet paper is going to be soft, like a puppy." That's just disturbing, because I don't want to wipe my ass with a puppy.

6). Proactive Solution ads, and now the ones by their competitor. First of all, I can go walk down the street or head to the store or any other public place and see a bunch of people with hideous skin. I don't want to see it in high definition in the middle of a What Not To Wear marathon. It's just so foul. And then, on the Proactive ads, we have to see which unintelligent celebrity is the dumbest, between Diddy, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. What's really sad is that I can totally believe Diddy having all kinds of nasty acne, but not Jessica or Jennifer. Because he's a man and men are so lazy about their skin -- even Diddy. And the more serious they try to make Jessica and Jennifer behave, the dumber they seem.

7). Hair color ads. Or really any kind of hair care product. These people always look like they're having such a fantastic time. No one ever has fun styling their hair. It's a chore, and then it either looks like shit when you're done, or you luck out and have a good hair day. Either way, you don't get all excited about. You might glance at your reflection in the mirror and be all, "I look kinda fierce today," but that's about it.

8). The car ad with the "gospel choir" that's all singing about the car. This alleged choir is full of skinny, beautiful people and I'm sorry, but first of all, no car is going to move the spirits of an entire gospel choir to sing about it. And no gospel choir -- or any other choir -- is this good looking.

9). Victoria's Secret -- the new ads for the push up bras. How old is this chick, like 14? I think it's hardly appropriate for her to be prancing around on television in that outfit.

10). Kay Jewelers. Someone just shoot me. These ads make me want to die. Or vomit. They are actually worse than the Jared ads. If anyone I knew ever bought me jewelry from Kay or Jared, I would know that a) they had no imagination, and b) they waited till the very last minute to do their shopping.

Alas, it is now the official Christmas shopping season, so I'm sure I'll be treated to more and more of my favorites as the weeks pass.